Jennifer Niven In Conversation With Holly Bourne

Sunday 20 November 2016

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jennifer niven holding up the universe

This is probably meant to come at the end of the post, but I feel that it belongs as the start because it's the most special. This isn't the first time I'm going to say this during this post, or forever, but I absolutely love Jennifer Niven. I could listen to her talk for days. Her words are just so inspiring, and the way she talk about her work and how she uses her own personal experiences as the basis for her novels makes it so honest and relatable. It's hard to explain, but she has made me want to start try and write. Trying to transfer emotions and ideas onto paper will be a challenge, but I'm ready for it. As I'm falling more and more in love with books and constantly reading, how I used to transfer my thoughts with images, is now being shown with words.

Now to the event! Located at Waterstones in Islington, we made our way up to the 1st floor where we were greeted with drinks and cool freebies. As the crowd applaud, the authors took to their seats. The interview was lead by Holly Bourne. Holly Bourne is the author of The Spinster Club trilogy books, which are about a group of friends who start their own feminist group. I picked up a copy of her first book in the collection called 'Am I Normal Yet' which is next on my to-read list.

jennifer niven holly bourne waterstones


I'm going to sound like a bad fan, but I am yet to read this book. I've seen so much about it online, with lots of positive slogans and quotes, and I was really excited to hear more. To give you a brief outline of the book, it's about two characters Libby and Jack. Jack suffers from prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness. He can't recognise the faces of his friends, family, or even his own. Libby was bullied as a child because of her weight and has recently lost her Mother. After 5 years, she is finally returning back to school, but as a stronger person. The couple first meets during a horrible prank and start learning how to see each other as well as themselves. The book is a romance (yay!), but it's also about learning to love and appreciate yourself and each other.

The background story came from things personal to Jennifer. Two of her family members suffer from face blindness, one of which is her 15-year-old cousin. When asked how he deals with this while being at school, and how he finds his friends, he said he remembers them by the important things, like the number of freckles on their face, and how nice they are. When I heard that, I nearly started sobbing! What a positive outlook to have, and I wish more people could think and see people this way. Libby is a character that is a mix of many stories close to Jennifer, such as weight struggles from her friends and family, as well as personal weight issues she had, especially when she was 12/13. The topics such as bullying, appearance, weight issues and anxiety, (all of which Libby faces), were highly requested from readers, as so many are going through these problems. Jennifer felt that this needed to come through with Libby. She really wanted to work on the idea of being seen and seeing people for who they really are.


There was a lot of negativity surrounding the book once the blurb was released. This is pretty ironic because the book is about not judging people for what you think they are, yet people were judging the book before the book was released, and even before it they had read it. One of the reasons was they felt that Jennifer shouldn't be writing about an overweight character with weight issues, as she is a slim author. I was actually shocked when I heard this. I'm pretty new to this sort of industry, and I didn't know authors got judged this way. I guess this goes with a lot of things, but we shouldn't judge people for what we see them as, as we can't see how they're feeling, or what they've been through in the past. Some of the people surrounding the negativity finally read the book and apologised for what they had said.

jennifer niven holly bourne


The discussion then moved to All The Bright Places. Anybody who knows me knows how much I love ATBP. I'm always writing about it, quoting from it, I just love everything about it. Before writing YA, Jennifer wrote both adult fiction and non-fiction. Her agent sadly passed away, and during one of the last conversations they had, he said to write about something you can't imagine not writing, even if it terrifies you. ATBP is based on a personal story about a boy Jennifer knew and loved. This happened to her while she was in her 20s, but changed it so they are teenagers for the novel to give herself some distance and also allow it to be that YA book she wanted.

If you had read my post about books you need to read before they become movies, you would know that All The Bright Places is going to be on the big screen! Jennifer didn't give much away, except she has handed in another draft of the script and is waiting on notes from the director and producer, but is getting closer to the final script. As for casting, Elle Fanning is going to be playing Violet, and they have a shortlist of actors who could be playing Fitch, and most of which are British. I honestly can't wait to finally see this!

Find out all the exciting news from @jenniferniven's book tour in London.


When writing for teenagers, especially about sensitive topics that are covered in both novels, Jennifer made sure she wrote them as honestly as possible as people don't want to be reading something that has been fabricated. Something that she said about her novels which I loved was "the people who need it the most would find it." Even though I'm not a teenager anymore, ATBP has helped me face some issues especially ones that I had while I was younger, by talking about them again so they don't become a burden in my life. I even said to her myself that I'm not her target audience, and she said that more than 50% of YA readers aren't actually YA. Readers from all over the world have used the book as a platform to share their stories and are talking to other people about how they're feeling.

jennifer niven holding up the universe


One thing Jennifer and I have in common is we are complete and utter fangirls. She was asked about her favourite fan moment, and in case you don't know (just look at her social media and you will find out), she is a huge fan of the tv show Supernatural. As all her fans know this, they're constantly tagging the cast into tweets whenever she is talking about the show. Last year while meeting them as a Supernatural convention, Jared Padalecki (who plays Sam Winchester) asked if he has known her as she looked so familiar. As she was completely starstruck, she couldn't say anything, be if she could, she would have said that it's because all her readers are tagging him in all her tweets. She calls her fans her rockstars, which I love as she really does appreciate them.

Now time for my fangirling moment of the night. When I was talking to Jennifer, I told her that I had wrote about ATBP on my blog (which you can read here). I tagged her in a lot of the posts, and I know she is constantly getting sent tweets so I was hoping she would read it, or even just see it. When I mentioned the name of my blog, she knew exactly what I was talking about and thanked me for writing it! I was shocked that she even read it, let alone remembered it. I almost started hyperventilating but I waited to go outside before that happened.


As well as working on the ATBP movie, a third YA book is currently being written. I repeat Jennifer is writing her third young adult book! When she announced this I scanned the room to noticed everyone's expression change to excitement, including mine! She didn't give much away except she has already written about 12 chapters and it's a little different from the other two YA novels. My mind is thinking up a number of ideas, none of which seem plausible, so I guess all we have to do is wait... very patiently.

As we thought all the exciting news was over, just out of nowhere, Jennifer mentioned she is working on a secret collaborative project with another author. We all love secrets, but yet again my heart was a little crushed when she didn't give anything away, except we only have to wait a few months to find out all about it.

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I hope this has inspired you to pick up a Jennifer Niven novel and fall in love with the characters and words as much as I have. Let me know in the comments below any books you've read that has changed your life.